Ask the Marshall

Were Gatling guns ever used during the Indian Wars?

I know that Gatling guns were used during the Civil War and Spanish-American War, but were they ever used during the Indian Wars?

Mundo Osterberg

Peoria, Arizona

The forerunner to the machine gun, the Gatling gun fired 350 rounds a minute (if it didn’t jam) from a bank of 10 revolving barrels turned by a crank and fed from a hopper. Like the Hotchkiss “Mountain” gun, it could go anywhere a wheeled vehicle went—which meant it was rarely used in timber or rough mountain country.

The military was split on the effectiveness of the Gatling gun during the Indian Wars. George Custer declined taking Gatling guns in to battle at the Little Big Horn in June 1876 because he thought they would hamper his mobility (probably a big mistake on his part). They were used to rake Cheyenne positions in Oklahoma in 1875, killing six. During the Red River War in Texas, they were used against the Cheyenne on August 30, 1874. And Gen. Oliver Howard used Gatling guns in the Nez Perce War of 1877-78.

Although Army leaders debated just how well the guns worked, I have to believe the sheer firepower exhibited by these weapons was bound to have a psychological effect on the Indians.

True Westerners

Andy Thomas

Andy Thomas

Charlie Russell is special because he combined artwork with authentic cowboys, In...

Dark Starr

Dark Starr

One hundred years ago this month, Henry Starr set out to make history. The caree...

The West’s Newest Museum

The West’s Newest Museum

We will be a living institution. We will offer experiences. We will be the story...


True West Magazine Issue December 2014
Buy This Back Issue: Dec 2014


True West Magazine Issue January 2015
Buy This Back Issue: Jan 2015


True West Magazine Issue February 2015
Buy This Back Issue: Feb 2015

MARCH 2015

True West Magazine Issue March 2015
Buy This Back Issue: March 2015

APRIL 2015

True West Magazine Issue April 2015
Buy This Back Issue: April 2015

True West Site Guide


True West captures the spirit of the American West with authenticity, personality and humor by linking our history to our present. Whether you call it the Wild West, the Old West or the Far West, America's frontier history comes to life in True West, the world's oldest, continuously published Western Americana magazine.

Western movie fans, re-enactors, history buffs and road warriors, we got your history covered: outlaw, cowboy, Indian, lawman, gunfighter, fur trapper, miner, prospector, gambler, soldier, entertainer and pioneer. Check out these True Westerners now!

Product of the Month

The Illustrated Life and Times of Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp

"Your book is fascinating, coupling your powerful illustrations [and] tracking...from birth to Tombstone to the legend [Wyatt] had become;...even Wyatt would approve." --By Hugh O'Brian, of the TV series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp

"Hands down the definitive books on Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday." --By Allen Barra, New York Newsday